HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — U.S. Rep. Jim Himes was the sole member of Connecticut’s all-Democratic House delegation to vote for the $1.1 trillion federal spending bill, stoking more criticism from a liberal interest group that cited his Wall Street ties.
The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which backs the populist, anti-big bank message of Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, said in an email Thursday that Himes favored the legislation for “deregulating Wall Street” even though the bill contained numerous other measures.
Among the many items in the massive spending bill was a provision that weakens rules on trading risky financial products known as derivatives.
The vote by Himes, a former Goldman Sachs banker, was part of a political fight that scrambled alliances. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi issued a rare public rebuke to President Barack Obama and voted no as others on her leadership team voted yes. The legislation passed 219 to 206, with 57 Democrats voting in the majority. The measure is now before the Senate.
Himes said in a statement that he backed what he called imperfect legislation because it’s “extremely important” to avoid another government shutdown.
“If we’re going to restore functionality to our government, then Congress needs to compromise, and that’s what this bipartisan agreement does,” he said.
Connecticut’s other four House members — Reps. Joe Courtney, Rosa DeLauro, Elizabeth Esty and John Larson — voted against the measure.
Courtney said the measure includes “special interest giveaways that undermine the protections for our economy against big bank failure.” DeLauro said the bill “gambles with our financial system” and would allow banks to “engage in some of Wall Street’s riskiest transactions,” and Larson criticized the bill for its “alterations to the Dodd-Frank law,” which imposed sweeping new financial regulations following the 2008 crash. Esty said budgets represent priorities “and this is exactly the wrong direction for our country.”
Himes was re-elected to a fourth term Nov. 4 from the Gold Coast district that includes a large Republican constituency and Wall Street workers. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee objected last month when Pelosi considered Himes for a leadership post in the House Democratic Caucus, saying that “appointing a Wall Street banker who opposes Wall Street bashing is a losing strategy for Democrats.” She instead picked someone else.
A spokesman for Himes directed questions to his statement on the vote.
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